Dr. Eric Lander, a top science adviser to President Biden, resigned Monday night. His resignation comes hours after White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed he had been investigated over a complaint that he mistreated staff.
Politico reported on Sunday that an internal White House investigation found that Lander, a Cabinet member, had bullied and demeaned his then-general counsel, Rachel Wallace. Politico reported that a White House investigation had found “credible evidence” that Lander had spoken “harshly and disrespectfully to colleagues in front of other colleagues.”
“I am devastated that I caused hurt to past and present colleagues by the way in which I have spoken to them,” Lander wrote in his resignation letter, adding, “But it is clear that things I said, and the way I said them, crossed the line at times into being disrespectful and demeaning, to both men and women. That was never my intention. Nonetheless, it is my fault and my responsibility. I will take this lesson forward. I believe it is not possible to continue effectively in my role, and the work of this office is far too important to be hindered.”
White House reporters pressed Psaki on Monday why Lander had remained in the job when Mr. Biden had pledged to fire any employee “on the spot” if they are disrespectful.
Psaki said Monday that White House officials conveyed directly that “his behavior was inappropriate and the corrective actions that were needed, which the White House will monitor for compliance moving forward.”
Lander, who served as the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and a science adviser, is the first Cabinet-level member of the Biden administration to resign. Lander had been one of the leaders Human Genome Project and former head of the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard. He had been in charge of Mr. Biden’s cancer “moonshot” initiative, which the White House last week announced it would be relaunching.
Kristin Brown and Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.
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